I don't remember the last Mother's Day I shared with my mother. I was a senior at Boston College. I'm sure my family did something together, maybe a brunch or a dinner. I'm sure I called her. But I just don't recall the details.
One month later, I was anxiously waiting in a hospital room. And I heard the word no one wants to hear: cancer. My family knew her fate from the moment the diagnosis was uttered. We kept our relentless hope because she did, but my mom would succumb to the disease before seeing another Mother's Day. In nine months, stomach cancer took her life.
For those of us who are without mom on Mother's Day, it can be one of the most difficult days of the year. It's like being single on Valentine's Day: there are sad reminders everywhere.
With spring finally here and summer around the corner, the annual travel rush will soon be on. You certainly don't need to leave your dog or cat--or even your ferret--at home when you come to Boston.
Boston hotels have become some of the most pet-friendly in the nation. No matter where you stay in the city, there is a hotel to accommodate the needs of your four-legged friend.
Pets are part of the family. Modern travelers have evolved far beyond simply finding hotels that allow pets. They now wish to ensure that their best friends receive an experience as pampered as their own. There is even a list of ideal locations to vacation with your pet.FULL ENTRY
When pet owners leave for vacation, business, or a quick family visit, they need to find an ally to help them care for their pets. Enter the pet sitter.
Yes, the pet sitter. A savior to pets and owners alike! So before you jump head over tail into your next pet care job, read these tips on how to be the best pet sitter you can be!
Before you agree to take any pet care job, discuss with the owner what their expectations are and learn their pet's needs. This enables you to make sure that you are qualified. If the pet has medical needs that you aren't comfortable performing, it's better to know now and not when it's too late.
Dan Brown would appreciate the symbolism.
A seagull decided yesterday that the perfect place to perch for the evening was on a chimney. But not just any chimney. This seagull decided to sit atop the Sistine Chapel smokestack. Yes, the same chimney the world was watching as it eagerly awaited holy (white) smoke. The bird sat there, giving the crowd gathered below a reason to smile in the cold, damp day in Rome and news stations a story to report when no other signal had yet to appear.
Naturally, a Twitter handle was created almost immediately for the Sistine Seagull (gotta love social media). For a creature who already tweets (or caws "mine"), his social voice brought laughter worldwide. My favorite: "OMG somebody dropped a Cheeto! BRB, somebody keep an eye on the smoke for me." (The bird followed it up by saying it wasn't a Cheeto, but actually Cardinal Scola.) Apparently, Italian seagulls and those on the beaches of Cape Cod have a lot in common.FULL ENTRY
There is a poster making the rounds on Facebook. I've seen it at least seven times in the past two weeks. Besides presenting a cute photo, it informs readers who may see a dog with a yellow ribbon on its leash, to recognize that it's a sign the dog needs space and that respect should be given.
My initial reaction was "what a great idea." I appreciate a universal sign to let people know that the dog needs his space. Maybe he's being rehabilitated, maybe he doesn't do well with other dogs, and maybe he doesn't do well with people. Whatever the case, it reminds people to keep their distance. Dogs can get the exercise they need and can slowly become more comfortable with their new surroundings.
But, being the person I am, I thought more about it.
In a month that seems it's gone to the dogs, it's nice to hear a story about cats. Yes, between the Puppy Bowl, Westminster Dog Show (by the way, shout out to Banana Joe - that face is just too cute) and the recent announcement by the Marines of a new canine mascot, cats can get lost in the February shuffle. But not this year. No, cats came back with a vengeance to reclaim February as their own.
Earlier in the month, Monopoly announced it was retiring one of its game pieces: the iron. And what did America vote to replace it? Drum roll please...a cat. Now the Scottie dog and the cat can live in harmony next to a battleship, car, thimble, wheelbarrow, top hat and a shoe. In fact, the cat Monopoly piece beat out a diamond ring, a robot, a helicopter and a guitar to get inside the Monopoly box. Because when one thinks luxury, they think of cats. Damn those Fancy Feast commercials.
But are you surprised? As someone who works in social media and SEO, I'm not. The Internet has shown its love for cats for years. Do this experiment: share a photo of a cute puppy on your Twitter feed. Two hours later, share a cute kitten. Guaranteed: the kitten will get more retweets. Why? The Internet loves cats.FULL ENTRY
Super Bowl Sunday is here. Whether you are cheering loudly for either team or just tuning in to watch the commercials, odds are you'll be watching the game with friends. And as with any good party, there will be countless snacks to munch on and decorations to enjoy. But how safe are these for your pets? Read the tips below on how you can have a pet-friendly Super Bowl party.
Watch where you put your food. Coffee table snacks put things at pet-level. As convenient as it is to have snacks on the coffee table, it gives your pet easy access to food. And a brazen pet will grab an easy snack! Talk to your guests before hand to remind them to watch their plates.
Keep things tidy. Don't leave Solo cups around. Dogs often love beer. And if it's not a doggy specific brew, it's not good for them. In other words, make sure your friends don't behave like animals.FULL ENTRY
It's frickin' freezing in here, Mr. Bigglesworth.
If it seems like everyone has become Dr. Evil, it's because, baby, it's cold outside! Cold weather can not only affect you, but it can affect your pets as well. Here are some tips to keep your pet safe in the cold.
Do not let cats go outdoors. They can freeze easily outdoors if they don't have shelter and become lost or stolen. What's more? "They won't have access to unfrozen water," warns Dr. Brian Collins, Lecturer, Community Practice Service at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine.FULL ENTRY
The sweet lullaby of a bird whistling in the distance. Those "Polly want a cracker?" and other silly conversations we see birds and their owners have. And of course, every fearsome pirate has a parrot has a shipmate. Let's face it - we have all thought about owning a bird.
Experts say that owning a bird can be a lot of work and first-time bird owners are usually happier with smaller species such as finches, canaries, budgies or cockatiels. If possible, always adopt rather than buy as there are many birds that are available for adoption in local shelters. If you are looking to add a feathered friend to your family, these five questions will help you determine if you are ready.
Do I have enough space?FULL ENTRY
Pets seem to always get added luxuries. Toys galore. Comfy beds. Delicious treats (just for sitting down!). Dogs can now add a thirst-quencher to that list: beer.
That's right, Fido can now enjoy a brewski.
According to the Associated Press, Oregon beer-lover, Daniel Keeton, created Dawg Grog for his beloved pooch, Lola Jane.FULL ENTRY
Admit it. You clicked on this story because you were nervous I was talking about you.
Maybe it's because Saturday nights are spent in the apartment since you can't bear to leave your pet alone. You dress yourself and then accessorize your pet to match. You
change the channel shed a tear every time those Sarah McLachlan animal commercials come on TV. You have more Facebook friends for your cat than yourself.
It's 2013. Many New Year's resolutions contain finding love. That it's time to stop being a "party of one", and become a "party of two."FULL ENTRY
Every year it seems that lists of presents that need to be bought grows longer. New boyfriend. Roommates. Nieces and nephews. And don't forget those "surprise" gifts last year from people who you didn't know you were exchanging gifts with (really, for me? Here's...ummm).
But what about this conundrum: Your friends have bought your children presents each year for Christmas. You don't exchange gifts with each other, so your kids are reaping the benefits of the relationship. Your friends don't have kids yet, but they do have a pet. Do you buy their "child" a present too?
This issue actually faces more families and friendships than people realize. According to the APPA, about sixty-two percent of all households in the United States have a pet. And, the U.S. birth rate is the lowest it's been since 1920. Pets are considered family members (grandpuppies and grandkitties) so can you really snub the "kids" by coming to the house empty-handed?FULL ENTRY
Tis the season -- of travel.
Whether going on a plane, train or automobile, adding your pet as your passenger doesn't make things any easier. The roads are busier, airports are crowded and flights are packed. The holiday spirit seems to leave faster than we can dash through the snow.
If your family is planning to invite your furry friend to bon voyage, you need to be prepared. Before you go to the airport, make sure you and your pet are ready for travel. Check with the airline. It's so important to know what is allowed and what isn't so you aren't surprised when you arrive.FULL ENTRY
(c) Craig Garcia
Sometimes those precious pets we own aren't so precious.
Consider yourself warned: endless time sucks often take place when visiting these sites. Work productivity goes down. Giggles will be coming from your cubicle. And maybe a slight feeling of "Oh man, that's awful."FULL ENTRY
Thanksgiving is a time for football, family and, of course, food. With a cornucopia of guests -- and their kids -- descending on your house, there will be lots of extra people trying to pass a tasty treat to your cat or dog. They may have the best of intentions, but "people food" isn't always the best for your four-legged friend.
To keep things safe, read this list about which Turkey Day food favorites are safe for pets to eat and which ones may leave you cleaning up a mess -- and I don't mean the dishes.
Going to someone's house? Even if your pet is great with table scraps, it doesn't mean that your relative's cat can tolerate the same amount. Always check with the owner before you offer a pet any additional food.FULL ENTRY
Love getting lost in another time? Exploring places where history has not been forgotten?
America may be young, but parts of our great nation are rich with history. And you don't have to venture far from the Common to find it. It's time to explore the rest of New England. And who's a better companion than your pup?
With a gorgeous weekend ahead of us, head out and take it all in. Check out these dog-friendly historical walks around the area. Dogs should always be on-leash at these places, out of respect for the land and for others. And of course, you should always clean up after your dog too.
Want to conjure up some fun with your pets this Halloween? Hop on your broomstick and fly off to these parades. Humans aren't the only ones who can enjoy the All Hallows' Eve holiday celebration. All over the country, our four-legged friends are joining in on the spooky fun. From Massachusetts to California, these celebrations let pets express their love for Halloween. And many have contests and prizes, too. Some are only open to dogs, and some welcome different species, so find out before you go. Check out this list of pet parades and feel free to share fun ones near you in the comment section below.
And don't be a scaredy cat this holiday when it comes to making a costume for your pet. Read this list of DIY Halloween pet costumes for inspiration and find one that you -- and your pet -- will love. You never know, maybe you and your pet will win the prize for best duo.
The Canine Promenade
Sunday, October 27th
Halloween celebrations in Boston wouldn't be complete without our own pet parade. Drop by the Esplanade to check out Bean Town's best dressed best friends in this half-mile walk along the Charles River. Rover can enjoy tasty treats provided by Pawsh, a local dog boutique, and you can check out a new walking route for him. Find out who'll take home the prize for the most wicked awesome costumes.
Welcome to Pet Chatter!
Love animals? Want tips on the latest pet topics both in Boston and around the country? Well, you've come to the right place. I'm here chat with you about everything pet-related, whether it's dealing with dogs and cats or any other, furry, scaly or slimy friend that has captured your heart.
I'm an obsessed pet parent myself, and I love talking with others who are so creature-inclined. If there's an local pet event you're excited about, a cute story you'd like to share or an animal issue you want my take on, feel free to reach out. I love doing features on what is capturing everyone's attention.
Earlier this year, I wrote a story for Ideas about the surprisingly vibrant world of contemporary board game design. While the rest of us suffer through Monopoly and spend evenings playing Scrabble for the millionth time, a subculture of gamers are entertaining themselves instead with elegant, structurally innovative titles that most of us have never heard of. The people who make these games are driven by a curiosity about the mechanics of fun, and the possibilities of conjuring it with a piece of cardboard, a few pieces, and maybe a pair of dice.
One of the things I didn’t get into in my original story was the challenge of matching the theme of the game with the way it’s actually played. Ideally, I was told, the decisions a player is asked to make during a turn somehow draw on the reality of whatever the game is supposed to be about. In other words, a game about pirates should probably include a battle over booty, while a game about politics should probably feature some kind of election. With that in mind, I was very curious to hear about a new game called Salem, designed by a former Bostonian named Joshua Balvin and themed around the Salem witch trials. The game, which Balvin is raising money to produce through Kickstarter, throws players into the midst of the four month-period when, as the story goes, residents of the town of Salem, Massachusetts turned on one another and started killing people they suspected of being possessed.
I interviewed Balvin over email about how the game works, and how he went about marrying the gameplay to the story of what really happened in Salem. (Our exchange was edited very slightly for publication.)
IDEAS: Tell me what aspects of the Salem witch trials you're trying to capture in this game. What did you decide were the crucial dynamics to represent?
BALVIN: The most important dynamic I wanted to capture was to place the players in Salem in 1692. This meant recreating the paranoia that there are witches among us, the fear that you might be next, and the mob-mentality that led to the loss of 20 lives during the summer of 1692. To accomplish this there are 42 residents in the game (based on actual citizens of Salem, selected following extensive research) whose stories unfold over the course of the game. Each player gets six of these residents. Some of each player's residents are secretly identified as witches and it is up to the other players to jail, accuse and hang them. When a resident is hanged, a short synopsis is given of the real-life fate of that person in 1692.
IDEAS: What about the history did you find most difficult to incorporate into the game play?
BALVIN: The game takes place over four rounds representing the actual months of the trials, punctuated by hangings corresponding to the exact dates of the hangings in Salem. I eventually had to give up that the exact number of residents hanged at each of these dates would match history (the fundamental priority is an exciting game and there was simply no way to have this work without disrupting the flow of the game). That was the only real compromise that was made to the historical narrative of the game.
IDEAS: What's the coolest or most interesting decision players have to make when they're playing Salem, and how does it connect to the history?
Players are the judge, jury and executioner. The most interesting decision comes at the end of each witch trial when players must use the information they've acquired during the witch hunt to decide which of the jailed residents they would like to see hanged. The tension is always palpable as you're hoping you've payed close enough attention to get it right. Ballots are cast in secret and revealed simultaneously so each round ends with surprises. This ties in historically with the conundrum these people faced: do I accuse someone else to save my life, or do I die an honest person?
IDEAS: Did you come up with any original game mechanics when designing the structure of the game, or would you say this is an amalgamation of existing mechanics?
While there has been some inspiration from other games (Black Vienna and The Resistance to name a few), none of the inspirations made it into Salem intact. It's taken 6 years to create this game mostly because I simply refused to compromise the historical narrative for the sake of game play and visa versa. 6 years is an extraordinarily long time to spend on any board game, but the final result was well worth fighting for.